The U.K. High Court rejected a final plea to treat Alfie Evans in Italy, despite the fact that he breathed unassisted for 19 hours.
Justice Anthony Hayden of the U.K. High Court ruled against the option to take Evans to the Vatican’s Gesu Bambino Pediatric Hospital, even as an Italian air ambulance stood by ready to transport the toddler, according to the Mirror. Legal representation for his parents said doctors at Alder Hey Hospital predicted that he would last only a short time without assisted breathing, but Evans defied that prognosis when he began breathing on his own and continued to do so for over 20 hours after doctors removed his life support.
Now, the best the court could offer was to suggest to Alder Hey that they consider letting his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, take their son home.
It was “the final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy,” Hayden said, according to Josh Halliday with The Guardian.
Hayden did, however, ask if Alder Hey would consider allowing Evans to be transported home with his family.
“If there were a more constructive attitude from the family might other options become possible, away from Alder Hey?” Hayden said, according to the Mirror. “I’m not suggesting this, I don’t want it to be taken as an indication from me. One of the things Tom Evans said, if it can’t be Italy or Munich, which it cannot be, was whether they could take Alfie home.”
A hospital clinician reportedly told the court they had a “genuine fear” that angry protesters in support of Evans would make transporting him home currently impossible.
Despite allowing the child to receive oxygen and water, staff at Alder Hey have reportedly refused to allow him to have food for over 23 hours, according to a Facebook post from the father. Tom said that even so, Alfie was smiling, moving, and had good color since being allowed oxygen.
“He has now been starved from nutrition for 23 hours,” Tom wrote. “How is this HUMANE where does his DIGNITY LIE.”
The child’s life support has been switched off since 9:17 p.m. local time Monday, in accordance with court approved plans to end his assisted breathing treatment. He has continued to breathe on his own, doing so for at least six hours before hospital staff allowed him to have an oxygen mask. The mother and father launched their final legal appeal to the court shortly thereafter. The hearing began at 4:00 p.m., during which Hayden and Paul Diamond, the lawyer from the Christian Legal Centre representing Tom and Kate, engaged in a tense exchange.
“This really is an appeal, in our submission for common humanity and common sense,” Diamond said, according to the Mirror.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to use emotive terms. As a barrister confine yourself to the law,” Hayden said.
Diamond proceeded, giving a witness statement from Tom in which he claimed that doctors were “gobsmacked” that Alfie didn’t die and began to breathe on his own after being extubated.
“We do have a human being,” Diamond said.
“I don’t need to be reminded we have a human being. You do not have the moral high ground in this court. It is treacherous terrain,” Hayden said.
The court adjourned to allow representatives from Alder Hey to consider whether Evans can at some point be allowed to go home.
Supporters of Evans meanwhile urged Liverpool fans to “chant for Alfie” during the 23rd minute of the Champion League match against Roma on Tuesday evening, since he is 23 months old. They have also urged for a song to be played and for fans to give a round of applause in support for the toddler.
The hearing is ongoing.
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